An Agile Manifesto for 2021 📜
A reflection over the famous 12 principles, and 4 major themes we can take away from them.
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When I studied CS at university, I remember being told the mythical story of how the Agile Manifesto was born.
These 17 people, closed in a chalet on the mountains in 2001, who spent a few days and came up with the 12 principles that defined software engineering culture for the next two decades.
Aside from these founding fathers vibes, though, there are actually many things people get wrong when remembering this moment.
📜 Pre-Manifesto Era
For instance, many believe the manifesto led to the creation of the various Agile methodologies we are all familiar with. Actually, the opposite is true: Scrum, Extreme Programming, and others mostly predate the manifesto.
In fact, the manifesto was born out of the necessity of putting order into all these similar-but-different disciplines.
Why am I telling all of this? Because it seems to me today we are in a similar pre-manifesto era. Many people struggle at defining what Agile really means, while successful subcultures like DevOps, Continuous Delivery, and Lean, each cover only some parts of the original Agile scope, with overlapping principles.
So a few days ago I went back to the original manifesto — kind of how you go back to the Scripture — to draw some inspiration from it.
🔢 The Four Values
Reading the 12 principles today, they still feel very relevant. This is already an incredible feat in such a fast moving industry.
But we also learned a lot in these 20 years, and we can probably reframe these principles today in the light of such learnings.
So I started annotating the principles and extracted a few major themes from them. I chose the ones that were both the most recurrent in the manifesto, and I believe are the most important today.
Here they are:
👥 Work closely with stakeholders
🚚 Work in small batches & deliver incremental value
🏅 Give teams agency
🎨 Promote simplicity and good design
Let's explore each one and why I believe they are the key takeaways from the Agile manifesto in 2021.